Black women had to fiercely contend for space in the nation’s public square from their arrival on these shores. Despite the barriers, they have courageously led movements to end slavery, win equality for women and secure voting rights.
Historian Martha S. Jones is reclaiming Black women’s space in the history of politics and a prolific series of explorations. Her newest book, Vanguard restores Black women to their rightful role as champions and leaders in the fight for enfranchisement. Vanguard details Black women’s challenges to racism and sexism to win the ballot and leverage political power to win equality for all. Jones restores the legacies of Black women, including Maria Stewart, Hallie Quinn Brown, Fannie Lou Hamer and many others to the historical record. This essential work comes as the centennial of the 19th Amendment is being celebrated, most often ignoring the fact that it would be nearly another 50 years before most Black women could exercise the franchise. Jones’ book comes as a welcome corrective to the historical record.
Martha S. Jones is the Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor and Professor of History at The Johns Hopkins University. She is a legal and cultural historian whose work examines how Black Americans have shaped the story of American democracy.